Garfield High School students lead youth march through Seattle in protest of police brutality and harassment

With a soaking, incessant rain, Garfield High School students lead a march of 60-70 youth through the Central District to Capitol Hill, home of Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct. During the march, chants of “hands up, don’t shoot”, “black lives matter ” “being black is not a crime, same story every time” and “if we don’t speak, who will” could be heard through the streets as the youth marched against police brutality and harassment of youth in Seattle, and around the United States. In solidarity with Ferguson, demonstrators rallied at the East Precinct, read a statement through megaphones, and allowed anopen time for anyone to speak. Student’s questioned SPD’s shifting glances and far off stares, as officers on horseback smiled for the camera and police in light riot gear maintained a perimeter around the station. Police on bicycles held back the peaceful but angry students as they asked why the police had their batons out when they were unarmed kids. SPD Captain Pierre Davis could be seen giving interviews, directing traffic, and speaking with high school students.

The Black Student Union Statement

DECLARATION TO SEATTLE POLICE DEPARTMENT

It seems as though many residents of this city struggle to make connections between what’s happening in Ferguson and what happens in Seattle, even though members of our own police department commemorate the Ferguson Police for their extrajudicial killing of Michael Brown. For example, Sergeant Christopher Hall of the Seattle Police Department changed his Facebook profile picture to a police badge that says, “Officer Darren Wilson I Stand By You,” as well as linked his Facebook friends to the Darren Wilson donation page. Sergeant Hall did this on August 20th at 3:43 PM, one day after the murder of Michael Brown. (Brown, unarmed and with his hands raised in the air, was shot to death by Officer Wilson.) Some are under the impression that Seattle is some sort of liberal Utopia where police brutality does not exist, despite the fact that the Seattle Police Department was under the investigation of the United States Department of Justice within the last three years for excessive force and concerns of discriminatory policing. The Department of Justice Findings Letter stated
“This perception is rooted in a number of factors, including negative street encounters, recent well-publicized videos of force being used against people of color, incidents of overt discrimination, and concerns that the pattern of excessive force disproportionately affects minorities.”
The Seattle Police Department has afforded it’s officers a “Perspectives in Profiling” class which aims to prevent racial profiling; however, SPD Officer Steve Pomper writes in the SPD’s newspaper The Guardian,“The city, using its Race and Social Justice Initiative, continues its assault on traditional and constitutional American values such as self-reliance, equal justice, and individual liberty.” Officer Pomper urges officers to “take the City’s use of Social Justice terminology and implementation of policy seriously and oppose it in every legal way possible.”. Another Officer Clayton Powell wrote in The Guardian newspaper about referring to citizens he interacts with as bitch, motherfucker, and nigga and says “If I can communicate with someone in their primary language… it makes me a more effective officer… Learn to accept and appreciate the direct method of in-your-face communication.” 
With all of this evidence of misconduct in the Seattle Police Department we as students of color at Garfield High School have decided to make a statement about the state of our city’s police department because we understand that in order to affect nationwide change we must first take a look at our own city. Garfield High School’s Black Student Union, in alliance with fellow BSUs and youth of color in Seattle stand in solidarity with the people of Ferguson and with all victims of racial profiling and police brutality. We’re congregating in front of SPD East Precinct to assert our rejection of the police force here and nationwide, because we know “protect and serve” does not apply to us just as “All men are created equal” did not apply to our ancestors, nor we their descendants. Though some may argue “not all cops”, when you put on that uniform you are no longer an individual but another force upholding a system of oppression. The same system whose origins of American policing are in Runaway Slave Patrol, the entire establishment is rooted in White supremacy and feeds on anti-blackness. Today we are here to say that we will no longer compromise with those without a conscience, we will no longer beg & plea for you to recognize our humanity. We will no longer demand reform of the ‘broken system’ because it is functioning exactly as it’s supposed to.
Until the people can revolutionize this corrupt institution altogether, we will take justice into our own hands. We the people will police the police. In order to achieve our goals of accountability and community autonomy, especially for and among communities of color, we are referring to the goals and action plans outlined by the Berkeley chapter of Copwatch. Berkeley Copwatch’s Goals are:
 
1) Reduce police violence by directly observing the police on the street, documenting incidents and keeping police accountable. We maintain principles of non-violence while asserting the rights of the detained person. We provide support to victims whenever possible. We also seek to educate the public about their rights, police conduct in the community and issues related to the role of police in our society.
 
2) Empower and unite the community to resist police abuse. We will do this by sharing information with the community, conducting “Know Your Rights” trainings, sponsoring rallies, supporting victims and other community based efforts to deal with the problem.
 
4) Most importantly, we encourage people to exercise their right to observe the police and to advocate for one another.
Warning’ by Langston Hughes
 “Negroes, Sweet and docile, Meek, humble, and kind: Beware the day They change their mind.””

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Signs Indigenous People’s Day Into Law

Hundreds of activists and community members gathered in Seattle City Hall’s Bertha Knight Landes room, to witness the signing by Mayor Ed Murray of Indigenous People’s Day into law, effectively abolishing Columbus Day in Seattle.

Seattle Marches To Celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day

Activists for Indigenous rights, tribal members, native leaders, and indigenous people from around North America gathered to rally and celebrate Seattle’s newest holiday, Indigenous People’s Day, replacing Columbus Day. The event included a rally at Westlake Park, a march to Seattle Center and a rally at the John T. Williams memorial totem pole. More than 150 demonstrators marched through Seattle, stopping in intersections to sing and dance.

From the 7th Annual Abolish Columbus Day/ Indigenous Peoples Day Rally and March Facebook event page…

We will meet at Westlake Park for speaking.
We will march and sing to the John T. Williams Pole for more speaking and singing and ceremony.
Wear red. Spread the word. We need singers, dancers, chairpeople and hereditary leaders. we need mothers, fathers, sisters, sons and daughters. we need nations from all directions and colors. we need to be loud enough that the state and federal governments take notice. Lets make this the largest march yet, with the biggest wave of change following it. in the wake of our footsteps through the city may the people see, the people hear, the people remember and speak about the good that is happening in this sacred time we live in.

Historic decision by Seattle City Council renames Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day

After years of hard work by generations of activists, the Seattle City Council made a unanimous decision on Monday, October 6th 2014 to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. Mayor Ed Murray will sign the resolution on October 13, 2014.

From the Rally to support Historic Vote “Round 2″  to abolish Columbus Day and declare that day Indigenous People’s Day in Seattle! FB page…

“On October 6, 2014, the Seattle City Council will vote on a resolution supported by members of the Seattle Urban and Reservation Native communities to end Columbus Day in Seattle and declare it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

THIS VOTE IS FACING STRONG OPPOSITION BY COLUMBUS DAY SUPPORTERS! We need your voices and brief speeches, songs, drums and bull horns! WE ALSO EXPECT EVERYONE TO REMAIN PEACEFUL…

The rally begins at 11:00am until to 1:30pm. The Seattle City Council meeting starts at 2:00 pm where there will be about 30 minutes total for testimony.

*****
TO SPEAK UP AND TESTIFY! You must sign up to testify prior to the City Council vote! Sign in before 1:30pm outside the Council Chambers to support this historic vote! You will have two minutes to speak your mind in the Council Chambers, so make it count! Let your voice be heard!

*****

Columbus brought genocide and slavery to our lands, let us stand strong for our ancestors for what they endured and let us send a message to our youth and next generations that we will not tolerate celebrations in the honor of a man who committed mass atrocities.

The resolution is co-sponsored by Council-members Kshama Sawat and Bruce Harrell.”

Bitter Lake Hobby Lobby opening greeted by protest over SCOTUS ruling

At 7AM a group of demonstrators gathered on the sidewalk near the parking lot of the recently opened Hobby Lobby in North Seattle to oppose the Supreme Court ruling that denies certain healthcare options for Hobby Lobby employees. The protestors were holding a 12 hour demonstration in front of the building as a small contingent of pro-Hobby Lobby supporters held signs proclaiming their love for the corporation. As vehicles passed, the reactions were mixed, but the majority of the passers by in support of those holding the Boycott Hobby Lobby signs. The numbers varied throughout the day, with the majority of demonstrators lining the streets before noon and from 4pm – 7pm. A group of high school students from nearby Ingraham H.S. decided to stop by on their lunch break after seeing the demonstrators on their way to school that morning. According to the students, they are members of the Humanitarian Society and are currently focusing on women’s rights issues. Some students may be organizing a protest of their own against Hobby Lobby on Monday, October 6th.

From the Boycott Hobby Lobby pamphlet…

Why Boycott Hobby Lobby?

- The only person who should make decisions about your healthcare is you. Not your employer.

- We are here to raie awareness and help everyone understand their rights, and more importantly how those rights are being threatened.

- We are here to encourage our neighbors to spend their money elsewhere.

What did Hobby Lobby Do?

- Earlier this year, the owners of Hobby Lobby went to the Supreme Court seeking exemption from covering certain contraception options for their female employees.

- The result of this ruling denies certain healthcare options for Hobby Lobby employees, and puts every American citizen at risk of being subject to not only healthcare restrictions but employment discrimination of all kinds, now and in the future.

How does this affect me?

- An employer, now or in the future, has an open door to potentially restrict or deny the healthcare options you might choose for you and your family. We don’t think that’s right.”

NYC Climate Justice March draws 300,000 – 400,000 protestors on September 21st, just a few days ahead of the UN Climate Summit

A warm day in New York City brought 400,000 people together across social, economic, racial, gender, age, and ability divisions for a massive march through Manhattan. The purpose was to once again draw attention to changing climate and to show world leaders attending the UN climate summit that their citizens are expecting action to prevent a climate catastrophe. The vast array of signs and banners gives a fractional representation of the wide spectrum of humanity attending the event.

From the http://www.peoplesclimate.org website…

“To Change Everything, We Need Everyone.

On September 23rd, heads of state are gathering to New York City for a historic summit on climate change. With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we are taking a weekend and using it to bend the course of history.

In New York City there is an unprecedented climate march  – in size, beauty, and impact. Around the world people are taking action at over 2,700 events in more than 150 countries to demand Action, Not Words. We are demanding the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

This summit is historic – and so is this mobilization. Because the fight against climate change is about us – the people who are standing up in our communities, to organise, to build power, and to shift power to a just, safe, peaceful world.”

The gallery below is a selection of my favorite shots from the Peoples Climate March in NYC on September 21st, 2014. The additional photos can be found here…https://www.flickr.com/photos/jagarlandphotography/sets/72157647544180509/


See the link below for the rest of the gallery on Flickr…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jagarlandphotography/sets/72157647544180509/

Seattle Housing Authority welcomed by demonstration at Yesler Community Center

More than a hundred protestors held a rally outside the Yesler Community Center on Wednesday, September 17th to fight back against SHA’s proposed housing cuts. City Council Members Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant were on hand to speak and state legislature candidate Jess Spear appeared to stand in solidarity with those facing evictions from their low income housing.

From the event Facebook page…

The Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) want to push “work-able” tenants out of their housing by increasing tenants’ rents over six years with a proposed rent policy called Stepping Forward. This harmful policy will only lead to evictions and displacement of Seattle’s most marginalized residents.

Join SHA tenants as they defend their right to housing!

After the rally & press conference, please stick around for the public hearing on Stepping Forward at 6pm. For more information about the TU’s campaign to stop Stepping Forward, visit http://stopsha.wordpress.com/